Cancer Cluster Identified in Greece

ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 27 (UPI) — The incidence of cancer fatalities in a heavily industrialized area of southern Greece is higher than in the surrounding region, health authorities say.

Scientists say the rate of cancer-related deaths among residents of the Oinofyta area, near Attica, where water has repeatedly tested positive for carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, is 14 percent higher than among residents in the broader Viotia prefecture, Kathimerini reported.

Researchers from Athens University said 118 deaths, one-quarter of the 474 deaths registered in Oinofyta from 1999-2009, were caused by cancer.

They also found a relatively high incidence of fatalities from rare forms of cancer. Deaths from cancer of the liver in Oinofyta during the 1999-2009 period was 1,472 percent higher than deaths from the same form of cancer in the rest of Viotia, researchers said.

Deaths from cancer of the urinal tract were 841 percent higher than similar fatalities elsewhere in the prefecture and similar discrepancies were found between cases of mouth and lip cancer in Oinofyta and the surrounding region.

“These forms of rare cancer are often a result of environmental pollution … so it would be logical to say that they are the result of the longstanding presence of hexavalent chromium in the water of Oinofyta,” Athena Linou, a professor of epidemiology who led the study, said.

She proposed the immediate inspection of all sources of drinking water supply in Oinofyta.

“I know authorities have already taken some steps in this direction. But tests should be conducted regularly and the samples should be taken from tap water in homes and not just from the refinery,” she said.

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Categorized | Drinking Water, Other
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